The Healing Strength of Tears

On a recent gray day, raindrops on our patio’s Montana Clematis reminded me of tears.

There are tears that burn and there are tears that anoint as oil. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian)

True tears, flowing from love for God, possess such power. Greater than Baptism itself is the fountain of tears after Baptism. ~ St. John Climacus

When said with pain, the prayer gives birth to mourning. Mourning brings tears. Tears in turn give birth to purer prayer. For tears like a fragrant myrrh wash away the filth, and thus the inbreathing of God is cleansed, which like a dove is confined within four walls, as if made of the four elements… And then, as soon as the walls break down and collapse, the dove immediately flies to the Father whence it came. ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? The day I call to you, my enemies will be turned back. Because I know God is on my side. ~ Psalm 56:8-9

All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. ~ Psalm 38:9

Everyone has heartache. That’s part of life, and there are many kinds of tears. There are tears of sorrow, contrition, and frustration… to name a few. There are also good, and joyful nourishing tears of gratitude that flow from the love of God.

Accept the fountain of my tears, Thou who dost gather the waters of the sea to clouds... ~ Hymn of Kassiani

Standing in front of an holy icon, and looking into the eyes of our Saviour or His Most Pure Mother, or our Patron Saint…. our tears can become prayers when we can’t speak. Tears bring us back to God, closer to God.

A place without sorrows can only be in the heart, when the Lord is within it. ~ St. Nikon of Optina

May we bathe more often in the sweet consolation of prayerful tears and God’s holy, healing, spiritual myrrh. Both now and ever.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~ St. Matthew 11:28-30

Festal Blessings of the Heart

Veneration of the Cross, Third Sunday in Great Lent, coincided this year with the set Feast of the Annunciation, on April 7th. The Precious Cross was decorated in traditional red colours… using roses and carnations. However, and alas, even after scouring the grocery store, there was no fresh basil (also traditional to use when decorating the Cross) to be found. So, from our garden, fragrant pink pieris japonica and white viburnum were added.

Yesterday, the morning sun danced and blazed brightly on my face. I closed my eyes to bask in its warmth.

Antiphonal chirps and trills of birdsong resounded. At the raucous cry of a seagull overhead, I opened my eyes and smiled at the added ambience.

Not to be outdone, budding catkins nodded vehemently over the top of the pergola, each fuzzy leaflet highlighted with a tiny halo of luminous, Gladsome Light. I desperately wanted to run and grab my phone camera to catch this breathtaking beauty… but knew the special light would change in a second or two, and I would forever lose the moment – without being in the moment. I took a picture instead… with my mind’s eye, and can see this sight even now as I type. I hope to remember it forever.

From the porch roof, remnants of raindrops stubbornly clung as lustrous, pearly, stalactites, until they chose to let go. Their occasional drips echoed as muffled percussion on the patio flagstones below, perfectly complimenting the surrounding avian symphony.

And the trees! With branches lifted skyward as if in supplication, they swayed and danced with expressive abandon (as only trees can in a festal morning wind)… kicking up their rooty heels with joy!

Stop. Look. Listen with your heart. Let it dance with the trees, in joy and gratitude at God’s Creation!

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, as they behold their fellow-tree, the Cross, today receiving veneration: for Christ, as holy David prophesied, has exalted it on high. I died through a tree, but I have found in thee a Tree of Life, O Cross of Christ. ~ Sunday of the Cross, 8th Ode

God is everywhere present and fills all things! The Three-Branched Cross of Christ is Life!

Alleluia and Amen!

The Sheep of His Pasture

This Icon of Christ the Good Shepherd is used with Fr. Serafim’s kind permission (Mull Monastery).

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. ~ Psalm 100

Parish Youth Choir recently making a joyful noise unto the Lord, and singing praises!

Good Shepherd – Parish Altar Mosaic

Come, Magnify Him!

Garden bouquet, picked for a friend this week: Heather, Viburnum, Pieris Japonica, Sword Fern

Light was first
Through the Lord’s
word Named day:
Beauteous, bright creation! ~ St. Caedmon

Greetings on St. Caedmon’s Day!

This 7th century British Saint heard angels sing, and recorded their heavenly hymn which became the earliest English poem in existence!

Previous Blisswood post shows the ruins of the ancient Whitby monastery where St. Caedmon lived.

After reading St. Caedmon’s Hymn from these Latin, Moore/Leningrad Northumbrian Dialects/Bodleian West Saxon sources and translations – this poem achingly called to me, asking to be adapted further.

I translated it into a more contemporary old English and put my adaptation to the ancient melody of the 13th century Byzantine Hymn: Defte Lai.

My version of St. Caedmon’s Hymn with Sheet music here.

Below is my version of St. Caedmon’s Creation Hymn, rusticly sung and recorded, accompanied by my faux-lyre (ukulele) using the chords: Fm; Cm; and B♭m.

Come magnify Him,
Creator of the firmament,
Author of each and all,
And glorify His purpose;
Love, Invincible.

Come and honour Him,
Protector of Fair Paradise,
Holy, Mighty, Immortal,
Architect, Omnipotent;
Father of Glory.
Blessed, Timeless, Lord,
Thou hast established Thy wonders,
Before middle earth* was formed,
Or adorned with Thought of Mind;
Lord, God Almighty!

For the sons of men;
Thou formed the Roof of Heaven!

* Middle earth (not just a Tolkien invention)- it means the world, the middle enclosure – which exists between heaven and hell. From Middle English middel-erde, and Old English middangeard.

I’m grateful for the heavenly hymn St. Caedmon has bequeathed to us, and his role in the early English Orthodox church… From his beginnings as a humble shepherd – to his subsequent life as a meek monk in a great, historic, monastery.

When the song of the lips becomes the song of the soul, we’re able to – bit by bit, acquire a small, uplifting, repertoire of prayerful Psalmody from the heart – by singing anytime praises to the Glory of God!

Privilege of Prayer

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

No matter what misfortune might befall you, no matter what unpleasantness might occur, say ‘I will endure this for Jesus Christ’s sake!’ Just say that, and you will feel better, for the Name of Jesus Christ is powerful… Before It, all difficulties abate, and demons disappear. Your annoyance and faintness of heart will abate when you repeat His most sweet Name… ~ St. Anthony of Optina

When life hurls kitchen sinks our way; duck, cover, carry on, and ask God for help!

Or, we can choose to sit like a bump on a log, waiting for help to be doled out like a grand prize, as if it’s our due… because why should we have to ask for help? Doesn’t God know everything, anyway?

We are indeed given free will. God wants us as collaborators, and it’s up to us to decide whether to ask, or not ask for help. Even if we’ve never asked for help before! God loves us, truly loves us, and waits patiently for us to come to Him.

I’d like to re-share these short, powerful, (tried and true) prayers, to use when sucker-punched with anxiety over any (or constant) painful situation that rears its ugly head, or even if we’re not quite sure of what to pray for someone:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on (fill in the blank)!

Or… Lord, help!

Or…

O Lord, You love (name) more than I,
And You can help (name) better than I,
And You know better than I, what is profitable for (him)(her).
So do for (name) what is best- only save (him)(her).

The short prayer above “O Lord, You love” is so very helpful, and positively over-rides useless, worrisome thoughts that may otherwise spin those windmills of our mind out of control. It also helps teach how to pray for someone when we’re not sure of how to pray. Feel free to add on your concerns in your own words. Unselfish, heartfelt prayer is prayer.

Prayer helps us to Faithfully endure uncertainties.

The Powerful and Sweetest Name of Jesus imbues us with Strength.

St. Gavrilia, the newly canonized saint (Oct. 3, 2023) whom I deeply revere, says in The Ascetic of Love (page 246):

When we… think of those for whom we wish to pray, we are induced to so by love. “Lord, You are the Source of Love. It is from this Source of Love that I draw too, and I offer you this person. Lord, I pray to You, grant him [her] Your Light, grant him Your Mercy, grant him Strength, grant him Faith, grant him all the abundant Blessings that You grant. All I can offer is my humble love.” After this introduction, you take a knot of the Komboskini [Prayer Rope] and say: “I pray for so and so… and for so and so…” visualizing each of these persons at the Feet of Christ, praying on their knees before Him – themselves in person, as the anonymous author of the Way of a Pilgrim says. I have long years of experience that with this prayer God works many miracles. Because God wants us as <<collaborators>>, no matter how worthless we may be. For we are His Creatures, and it is with these Creatures of His that He has to work…

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

There’s nothing is quite so precious as our praising God, even in adversity, and to humbly show gratitude thanking Him for all His Blessings… and for hearing us (even if the situation currently seems unresolved)! Because He HAS heard us, and WILL DO what’s best, according to His Plan.

What a privilege to carry what weighs upon our hearts to the Lord in prayer!

Through the prayers and intercessions of our most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, our Guardian Angels, St. Gavrilia, and all the saints… thank you dear Lord, for hearing our prayers!

Amen!

Neither Eye Nor Ear

Image by 12019 from Pixabay

But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him’. But God has, through the Spirit, let us share his secret. For nothing is hidden from the Spirit, not even the deep wisdom of God. For who could really understand a man’s inmost thoughts except the spirit of the man himself? How much less could anyone understand the thoughts of God except the very Spirit of God? And the marvellous thing is this, that we now receive not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God himself, so that we can actually understand something of God’s generosity towards us. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

The Present

Let us bless the Lord day and night for His Gifts to us. ~ St. Gavrilia

When we open our Daily Gifts from the Lord, we might sometimes find a mysterious surprise!

And, while we may not quite know why we’ve received a particular present, we still keep it close… a mear heart’s breath away… knowing it will be useful.

What can we give Him for all the daily Blessings He’s lovingly bestowed on us?

At the dawn of each fresh and brand new day… what are the two greatest gifts we can give back to God?

Our gratitude.

Our self.

Thank You God

Sunrise on the Reef ~ Kauai 2023

Thank you God, for giving me this morning!

Each Dawn’s a Blessing!

Sing unto the Lord a new song and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea and all that is therein… ~ Isaiah 42:10

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever… ~ Psalm 146:6

Every morning open a new page and put your signature on the blank. Whatever God wants, let Him write. ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

May we grant Jesus – the Author of Life, to direct our day.

Let us Focus Forward!

Snapping Twigs

Icon of Great Martyr Barbara ~ shared by Anastasia

Congratulations, and Happy Feast on your Name’s DaySamuel! God grant you many years!

There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. ~ 1 Samuel 2:2

When the twig on which it is perching breaks, the little bird, without being alarmed, opens its wings and flies away. Likewise, when the support under our feet collapses, Faith and Hope in God give us the strength and joy to fly away ~ Gerontissa (Elder) Gavrilia

Illness always brings spiritual experiences to the person who is ready to grasp their meaning. ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

Once my mind “un-fuzzed” enough from COVID last month, I recuperated outside under the glorious sunshine amid fragrant patio flowers… and re-read this amazing book.

If you have an opportunity to borrow or buy The Ascetic of Love, DO! It’s such an uplifting, and spiritually practical book, by Nun Gavrilia.

I highly recommend it!!! Yes. Three exclamation marks! (But, if looking to buy online, the book is out of print, and may be super-expensive)

The Holy Prophet Samuel says… there is no other rock than our God. Indeed. So, when those other twigs in our life bend and snap (as they do and will)… May we be mindful enough to immediately embrace the Divine Action Plan, and joyfully fly away (unalarmed)… laying all our cares and burdens directly at the dear Lord’s Feet!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

With love and gratitude in Christ.

No Matter Where…

Moloa’a Bay Sunrise on Kauai – July 2023

God travels our road,
and no matter where we go…
our angel’s there too!

I’m out of practice with international travelling. It’s been a few years!

Thankfully, we received a trip blessing before departure on our recent and amazing family vacation – which began with a huge hiccup at a connecting airport… with hundreds waiting in line to go through customs, (many apparently) for a Taylor Swift concert.

I accepted the possible inevitability it was God’s Will we might miss our next flight. There was nothing to do but patiently go through the long process. In the near 2 hour line up, I found myself quietly humming Lord Have Mercy a prayer of the heart I’d taught the Youth Choir – who sang it (as recorded below) at concert, during Palm Sunday Liturgy this year.

Lord Have Mercy Hymn – Youth Choir 2023

This serene piece (possibly hummed several hundred times while waiting in line) calmed me, and it seemed I could almost hear the Youth Choir’s precious voices singing along, as if in accompaniment!

In a nutshell… once passed security, we made a desperate, sweaty 10 minute dash (dragging our carry-on), and actually boarded the plane shutting its doors! Whew! Six hours later we arrived safely in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii.

Mahalo ke Akua (thanks be to God)!

Be that as it may, it was still surprising and disconcerting to remember (I’d conveniently forgotten) that no matter where we go, we always manage to pack along our imperfect inner selves. Ack! There’s no escaping this, even on holiday in paradise!

Familiar foibles sneakily surfaced, and (unless constantly playing in the ocean) the high humidity magnified an existing (hard to believe I’m sure, ha-ha!) grump factor.

Our travel icons on the lanai – Kauai 2023

With my comfort zone challenged, I happily rediscovered that conscious repetition of Thank you God inspires true appreciation of His Creation.

Sincere gratitude helped me explore and happily embrace more unexpected adventures as they came during our vacation.

All in all, it was a joy to share new and meaningful experiences with loved ones. And, with apologies to my long-suffering Guardian Angel… I learned to embrace higher humidity!

It’s good to go – and good to come home… and very good to gird up one’s loins to resume the Me Battle again!

Mahalo for visiting Blisswood! I hope this finds you well.

With much Aloha in Christ! ❤️

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